Notorious Northumberland is now no more

After years of process and procedure, demolition begins on four buildings on Fraser Street that kept fire and police busy

The first building is torn down at Northumberland Court Wednesday afternoon.



When Mayor Ernie Daykin took the controls of the excavator for the ceremonial start of the demolition, it took a few seconds to get the knack of it, before he raised the big shovel and pushed it against the empty hulk and knocked down a few pieces of wall and lumber.

Then the real operator took over and within minutes, one of the four remaining buildings at Northumberland Court on Fraser Street was a pile of shredded two-by-fours, roof trusses, stucco and bits of twisted metal.

After years of bylaw enforcement, legal wrangling and politics, Northumberland, aka, the ghetto, is no more.

The notorious Northumberland is now a heap of rubble that soon will be carted to a dump. The ground will be scraped clean and new buildings will rise in what used to be a big blight on downtown Maple Ridge.

“To quote Mr. Rogers, it’s a wonderful day in the neighbourhood,” Daykin said.

All of Maple Ridge council showed up to watch the tearing down of the first building while neighbours lined the streets to do the same.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Jim Osler who lives nearby. “It’s been a long-time coming.” With the complex gone, it should be easier for other landlords to rent in the area, he added.

“It dragged out. It dragged out. It dragged out,” added Ron Smith who lives in the new condos across the street.

“The whole neighbourhood will change now,” another bystander added.

Watching from a distance, with her two tykes, just outside her house at the south end of the complex was Cheryl Sherman.

She has lived next door for a year, then one house away from the troubled complex for three years. Even before she moved to Maple Ridge, when she was in Prince George, she had read about the complex.

It’s been a long time coming and most of the street will be celebrating, she said.

While she’d lived nearby during the heyday when police, fire and bylaw officers were regular visitors, her family had no real problems with the neighbours.

Sherman though wonders how the complex deteriorated so badly and why residents continued to pay rent.

Still, her family managed to co-exist with the drama next door.

“We were pretty luck actually,” she said, adding they didn’t have any problem with breakins or crime.

Councillors were in a jubilant mood at being able to see the end of the complex.

“I don’t think you can understand the feeling,” said Coun. Cheryl Ashlie.

She never thought it would take three years, all of the present council’s term, to see the demolition.

It was important to follow the proper steps and work through the legal issues, added Coun. Judy Dueck. “We have no choice but to follow the law.”

Coun. Craig Speirs said he considered the demolition one of the current council’s successes.

Council wanted to be more aggressive in moving on it, but couldn’t. Once redevelopment begins, “it will send a big signal to the rest of the downtown,” he added.

Vancouver developer Ghalib Rawji says he’s continuing with his plans to redevelop the site.

“It’s a pleasure to be a part of this,” said Rawji who bought the condos from Jack Athwal and four other owners.

“Looking forward to building now,” he said.

Despite glooming world economics, he’s proceeding with plans to build 29 townhouses, apartments and some commercial space on the lot.

“We’ve got a great product, great pricing. I’m not worried at all.”

Plus, by the time it comes to market after March 2013, the Harmonized Sales Tax should be gone and the more real-estate friendly GST and PST system will be back in place. “That’s a five-per-cent discount right there,” he added.

The machinery moved in after a protracted process that finally saw Maple Ridge council issue a demolition order in July after the buildings had been entered and wiring tampered with.

Just Posted

Win and a tie for Maple Ridge secondary

Ramblers beat Garibaldi, tied with Gleneagle

Police looking for man last seen in Maple Ridge

Barrie Holt was last seen Oct. 6

Aidan’s Cup supercar event coming to Pitt Meadows

Once-in-a-lifetime driving experience via Children’s Wish Foundation

Soccer association hires new ops manager

Shauna Williams is the new Operations Manager for West Coast Auto Group FC. (Contributed)

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Vancouver Giants wrap up prairie road swing with a 4-2 win over Regina

Milos Roman paced the Langley-based Giants with two goals, goaltender David Tendeck made 34 saves

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Man arrested in fatal stabbing at Surrey gas station

Victim pronounced deceased at the scene; RCMP cordon off area

Most Read